By Player Murray
The office of the future is a reality these days, and many are embracing the new look, feel and atmosphere of today’s work spaces. But how do you get from where you currently are—the traditional office space you’ve been in for years—to that shiny, new space that’s so different in many ways?
I’m going to be honest (because I just went through it), there are a lot of moving parts. A lot.
But it doesn’t have to be as daunting as it seems. Preparation is key in any move and there are several things to prepare for when relocating an entire office. First thing to do? Prepare your agents. They have to be given the time and opportunity to digest, question and understand both the purpose and advantages of moving to a new space. We did this by preparing a presentation to explain exactly why this move was in their best interest, why the location we chose was better than our current location and what the new office would provide that our current office didn’t and couldn’t.
Much of our presentation focused on the growth of residential real estate and the center of sales geographically over the previous one , five and 10 years; it’s hard to argue with facts. We were also limited by the construct of our old building and there was only so much we could do to physically change the space to fit our agents’ needs. It was critical to demonstrate to the agents that a new location would allow us to create a space around their professional needs and the needs of their clients was critical.
There will always be difficulty in changing to a new work environment, especially when agents and employees are used to having four walls and a door to their own private space and now they’re hearing that is going to change. For us, this design change was critical; in surveying our old office, we found only 25% of the agents, on average, spent time in the space. The vast majority of our square footage was comprised of private offices that weren’t being used most of the time, which isn’t the worst thing. After all, empty offices for us meant agents spending time out with clients!
The need for private offices still does exist for some agents, but it isn’t and doesn’t need to be the focus of the office. When I was listing and selling, most of my time in the office was spent creating marketing materials, CMAs and making phone calls – all of which were mostly done in a workroom or as I walked around the office. (I’m a “pacer.”) This is true for most agents, so turning the majority of the space into common workspace met the need for almost everyone, and demonstrating that effectively is really crucial to their understanding of the “why” behind the change.
As agents, we all know that everything we do for our clients must provide value, and the same goes when making this sort of change. From the agents’ perspective, an office move provides an incredible opportunity to reach out to their sphere, past and present clients and referral sources to let them know why, where, and when the move is taking place. We held an “Open House” at our new office once it was finished and had our agents invite all of their contacts; it was a great event to say the least and made everyone feel like they were a part of our “new” business. It also gave our agents a good reason to get people to come into the office and something to be proud of as well.
In the end, agents need to like where they work, and need to want to be there. But we can create a space completely different from those of the past that fill both of those needs. Every company and office is going to have a different circumstance than we did, and possibly a different reason to move or change than we did as well, but the same elements we had to tackle to successfully move our office will always apply. The logistics of a move—packing up, physically moving, designing and building a space from scratch—are obstacles that everyone will have to figure out, but preparation is key above all else. Everyone needs time to prepare for change and time to envision themselves in a new environment. I’m happy to say that we didn’t lose a single agent because of, or during our move, and we’ve been growing ever since!
PLAYER MURRAY is one of the managing brokers at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices York Simpson Underwood Realty. He is also a member of the REthink Council. Click here for more information or follow Player on Twitter @playermurray.